70th birthday of Muhammad Ali. The legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali still looks strong on 70-year of age. Happy B’Day champ!!!!!
Muhammad Ali stands test of time
Lessons to remember
He always stood for something, even now when he cannot stand on his own.
Muhammad Ali turns 70 today, an old man wracked by the ravages of time, Parkinson’s disease and boxing. It is a lethal combination of afflictions that has all but silenced him, yet still his message is being delivered.
When Ali appeared last weekend at the first of five birthday parties to raise funds for the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky., he waved at a select crowd of 350 invitees but did not utter a word. Imagine how different things once might have been?
Nearly 50 years ago my father, like many fathers in those days, was no Ali fan. Joe Louis, he insisted, would have done painful things to Ali before silencing him inside a boxing ring and out.
I saw it differently, as did most people of my generation. Ali was an unbeatable force and the rarest of athletic commodities — a guy who stood for more than making a buck or winning a championship. In fact, he risked all that in the prime of his career to declare who and what he was.
He was a black man proud of that fact, and so he gave others the strength to be proud. He was a Muslim proud of his faith, and so he gave others the strength to pray as they wanted. He was a fighter boastfully proud of his gifts, and so he gave a generation a joyful though sharp-edged, and at times mean-spirited, voice to follow.
When the courts wrongly ruled his refusal to submit to the draft was illegal he didn’t run to Canada or Europe. He stood and fought back without complaint, losing nearly four years of his prime and a fortune in the process. That stance was what made my dad reconsider his notion of Ali.
“You got to respect a guy who accepts the consequences of doing what he thinks is right,” my dad told me one night. “I think he’s wrong but he’s not running. He’s standing up for himself. That’s how a man lives .?.?. but Louis still would have whipped his ass.”
We’ll never know about Louis, but eventually Ali whipped the government’s ass, defeating them in front of the Supreme Court as he would later defeat brave equals like Joe Frazier and George Foreman. He would fight too long, as nearly all of them do, and pay a large price for it, a price the world sees each time he appears in public, moon-faced and silent, Parkinson’s having taken from him his greatest gift.
Yet never has anyone who knows him heard him complain. Others speak of his sad fate, but Ali has long believed he is wrapped in the protective arms of Allah, the God of Islam, and so it is even today when he most often sits in silence or stands unashamedly trembling involuntarily as tremors rack his body like Frazier’s merciless left hooks.
His life at 70 is what boxing always is for even its greatest practitioners. It’s a hard road to glory but one he still walks willingly and with joy.
When Ali arrived in Philadelphia in November to attend the funeral of Frazier, his old nemesis and blood brother, he seemed a frail shadow of the man who for 50 years transcended sports to become one of the best known and most beloved athletes of all time and a symbol of hope, triumph, perseverance and steadfast acceptance of one’s fate.
Today, as his 70th year dawns gray and cold, it has become too much for some to bear watching him tottering along, his wife Lonnie’s arm steadying him as he moves. Yet as age and disease attack him that seems to be his last message to us all.
The last lesson of the great lion of my time is to stand tall even when you are broken. Relent not from what you believe, even when the fight seems hopeless. Do not complain that the road is rocky for did you think it unfair when it was smooth? And, perhaps most of all, do not ask, “Why me?” because the answer really is, “Why not me?”
Memorabilia is something whose attraction I’ve never fully understood, not often needing such trappings to recall the moments of importance in life, but one picture hangs proudly in the middle of my office. It is of Ali, young and strong and brave, the underdog at Miami Beach’s Convention Hall, lashing Sonny Liston’s face with a right hook.
Across the bottom there is a message from Ali in his own hand. I am told he didn’t often write anything more than his name, but this time he made an exception for an old friend, scribbling, “Serve God, He is the goal.”
At a time when Tebowing in a school can get you suspended, it seems, like most of Ali’s lessons, one worth remembering. (Ron Borges – BostonHerald.com)